In today’s hiring landscape, finding talented candidates with the right set of skills is harder than ever. After going through all the steps to source candidates, read resumes, administer assessments, interview candidates, and send out the offer letter, you still need your candidate of choice to say yes to your offer of employment. When jobs were scarce, you might have assumed that most offers would be followed up with an enthusiastic “yes,” but with job openings now exceeding the number of job seekers, you may have to put a little more effort into converting that candidate into your next star employee. Here are a few places to start:
Track your offer acceptance rate
When you want to improve something, it helps to make sure you’re tracking it accurately in the first place. Then, when you actually take steps to improve it, you can see whether your efforts are paying off. The most direct measure to use in this case is the Offer Acceptance Rate. Calculating it is simple: just take the total number of offers that have been accepted, and divide by the total number of offers given in a period.
By calculating this number, you can start to quantify the likelihood that your next candidate will say yes to your job offer. You can also benchmark it against industry standards to see if your recruiting department is doing well, or if there’s room for improvement. For reference, the average offer acceptance rate across all industries is anywhere between 89% to 68%, but this can obviously vary across industries. No matter what, you ideally want this number to be as high as possible, because it means you haven’t wasted time pursuing candidates who weren’t a good fit for the position in the first place. Even if you do find that your number is very low, don’t fear – at worst, the number helps to clarify the urgency needed to improve it.
If your offer acceptance rate feels too low, the first place to look is compensation, especially if candidates are routinely countering with much higher salary figures than what you are offering. Despite the changing values amongst early career workers in Gen Y and Gen Z, pay is still a top motivator for 67% of job seekers, according to data from Glassdoor.
If you think compensation is getting in the way of a “yes” from your candidates, there are two potential solutions. One is obvious: raise your salary offers. There’s evidence that the competitive hiring landscape is leading to increased wages lately, and if you really need experienced candidates with highly specialized skills, you may have to up the ante to attract them.
You can also address the supposed mismatch between what you’re willing to pay and what candidates are expecting in another way, by rethinking your requirements. Do you really need that many years of experience? Do applicants really need experience with that particular software platform, or will any professional in the space be able to pick it up quickly? Which skills are a must, and which skills can be trained on-site?
The point is to be realistic about the impression your job description is giving off about pay, and making sure it’s aligned with what you’re actually willing to pay. If you list the job title of VP but the salary is more aligned with a mid-level manager role, consider changing the title, or reducing the requirements. Otherwise, when you get to that negotiating round, both sides will be disappointed.
There are other ways to be creative about compensation as well. Comp doesn’t have to just be salary. You can entice candidates to say yes to your offer by incorporating different incentives that might appeal to them, like signing bonuses or paying for relocation expenses. Compensation is very likely to get in the way of an offer being accepted, but the answer doesn’t always have to be raising the salary. Be willing to work with candidates to find out if there’s some combination of compensation you can offer that they’re willing to accept.
Make the offer before a competitor does
A great compensation package won’t make much of an impact if your candidate has already accepted another offer. Competition for highly skilled candidates is high, which means there’s no time to dilly-dally through your hiring process. You have a lot to lose when your hiring process moves too slowly: think poor candidate experience, loss of revenue, and loss of your best candidates.
This doesn’t mean you have to make an offer to a candidate that doesn’t quite fit, or that you have to rush through the entire process. What it does mean is that when you find a great candidate that checks all (or most) of the boxes, you need to get that offer out there as soon as possible. You should also spend some time evaluating whether your hiring process is as lean and efficient as it can be. If you have steps in the hiring process that seem unnecessarily long, work towards cutting them down so that you can arrive at your decision faster.
Another reason your candidates might be rejecting your offers is that, by the time they get the offer and learn about the true nature of the job, they realize that it isn’t a good fit for them. As we mentioned earlier, this could be something as simple as mismatched salary expectations or even mismatched expectations about what the job entails. Maybe they thought they would be working with customers only to realize their job will be mostly paperwork. Maybe they thought the role was highly collaborative only to realize they will mostly be expected to work alone, with minimal guidance. None of these attributes are good or bad, but the issue arises when the candidate is led to believe that the job will be one thing, only for it to be something entirely different.
Don’t make your candidates submit a resume, go through several rounds of interviews, and take assessments without making sure they understand what type of role this is. That includes setting expectations about salary as well as expectations about day-to-day responsibilities and tasks. It also helps to give them a sense of company culture, or even allow them to meet their direct manager and peers before accepting.
When you’re honest and transparent up front, the best-case scenario is that candidates self-filter themselves out of the running for a role that isn’t right for them. At worst, they accept the job and end up leaving the company after a couple of weeks, setting you back to square one to fill the position.
Make an effort to be transparent throughout the hiring process, and you’ll save both your own time and the time of your potential candidates.